The uninitiated may read this phrase and go, “Huh, it im?”
Yes, yes, “it im”.
Not sure what this means?
Alright, imagine yuh de deep-rural Jamaica. Picture plenty greenery, red dirt an’ ting.
Now, imagine yuh tan up side a waa river whey have nuff alligata.
Can you see di riva?
Can you see di alligators swimming around, hungrily?
Now, imagine a man is in the water, washing his shirt, socks, marina and what have you.
Question: are you afraid an alligator may snatch him up and “it im”?
Riiiiight! Eat him. How easy was that to decipher?
To my non-Jamaican friends, the next time you’re part of a conversation among patois-speaking locals in deep-rural Jamaica, tune your ears good-good and try to pick up the context of the conversation. It will help you wade your way through understanding what’s being said.
And with that, I segue to 14 of the many words/phrases we Jamaicans use to describe people’s behaviour and/or appearance. They didn’t teach me this stuff in Catholic school. Like many other Jamaicans, I learned through observation.
Kunu-munu (also cunumunu or coonoo-moonoo)
usage: to describe or denote a gullible person
example: “Choo him come wid sad story, yuh buy plane ticket fi a man yuh nuh know from Adam, so-so soh? Yuh a real kunu-munu.”
translation: “Because he came with a sad story, you bought a plane ticket for a man whom you never met before, just like that? You are really gullible.”
Crebeh (or crebeh-crebeh for emphasis)
usage: to describe or denote a person who lacks refinement or social graces
example: “Look pan har a fling up har frock-tail an’ a trace off di parson! What a crebeh!”
translation: “Look at her flinging up her frock-tail and cursing the parson! What a lack of refinement!”
Cramouchin (also kumuujin and countless other spellings)
usage: to describe sly, miserly behaviour
example: “Imagine, Theophilus wid him cramouchin self drink off Enid porridge, tief di loaf a bread from har fridge-top an’ run gone before shi come back a di kitchen.”
translation: “Imagine, sly, miserly Theophilus drank all of Enid’s porridge, stole a loaf of bread from the top of her fridge and ran away before she came back to the kitchen.”
usage: to describe fraudulent activity
example: “Yuh gi Percy di whole a di settee money, an’ all now di settee cyan reach? Dat soun’ like bandulu business.”
translation: “You gave Percy full payment for the settee, and, up until now, the settee hasn’t reached? That sounds like a fraudulent business.”
usage: to describe or denote a showy person who has recently attained wealth or social status.
example: “Dis hurry-come-up bredda a flash him money an’ a twang like him betta dan we.
translation: “This showy brother, who has recently attained wealth, is proudly displaying his money and twanging like he is better than us.”
usage: a term of endearment, especially from a man to a woman with whom he is in love.
example: “Yuh can fetch mi a tall glass a ice-water from di fridge, mi dawlin’ putus?”
translation: “Can you fetch me a tall glass of cold water from the fridge, my darling putus?”
usage: to describe or denote a lanky person
example: “Dis langgulala man pants-foot de a him ankle like him a expeck flood.”
translation: “This lanky man’s pant hems are at his ankles like he’s expecting a flood.”
usage: to describe someone who is boastful and proud
example: “Missa Lee mussi have bout 40 degree from University College. Nuh wonda him walk so cockaty.”
translation: “Mr. Lee must have about 40 degrees from University College. No wonder he walks so proudly and boastfully.”
usage: with regards to behaviour, it means uncouth, lacking good manners.
example: “Likkle pickney, a really mi yuh a feisty wid so? Yuh nuh si mi a big s’mady to yuh? Fresh!”
translation: “Child, are you really being feisty to me? Can’t you see I am an adult to you? Uncouth!”
usage: to describe someone who is stubborn and won’t listen to good advice
example: “Hard-ears Tekeisha, look how much time mi tell yuh fi tro oil in di drum-pan. Now, maskita a breed-up breed-up inna di water.”
translation: “Stubborn Tekeisha, look how many times I’ve told you to throw oil in the drum. Now, mosquitoes are breeding plentifully in the water.”
usage: to describe the last-born child of a family
example: “Yes, mi dear, Petal Rose a di wash-belly fi Daffodil and Kanye.”
translation: “Yes, my dear, Petal Rose is the last-born child for Daffodil and Kanye.”
Cubbitch or Cubbidge
usage: to describe a stingy, covetous person. It is said, one’s cubbitch-hole, i.e. the hollow at the back of the neck below the base of the skull, is an indication of how greedy one is. The deeper the sink, the more covetous.
example: “Yuh cubbitch til cubbitch cyan done di way yuh cubbitch-hole deep.”
translation: “Your greed is endless based on how deep the sink in the back of your neck is.”
usage: to describe or denote a stingy, roughly mannered, unambitious person
example: “Everytime, mi ask di ole cruff, Lenny, fi Julie mango off him tree, him tell me him busy. Yet, everyday, him have time fi tan up wid shet-pan a Miss Gem back-fence a wait fi har done cook.”
translation: “Everytime, I ask stingy and unambitious Lenny for Julie mangoes from his tree, he tells me he’s busy. Yet, everyday, he has time to stand with a food container at Miss Gem’s back-fence, waiting for her to finish cooking.”
Dress to puss foot (noun: Dress-puss)
usage: to describe a person who is overdressed
example: “Shaniqua, what a way yuh dress to puss foot fi go graduation ball! Tek off some a dem necklace deh before dem heng yuh.”
translation: “Shaniqua, you are way overdressed to go to the graduation ball! Take off some of those necklaces before they hang you.”
Catch yuh next time!
Peace and love,